Ankle strap high heels are a favourite type of high heel for many celebrities such as Mariah Carey and the singer Normani. They elevate any outfit from jeans to red carpet dresses, they look good on most foot types and make everyone look elegant - however they can be very painful to wear and difficult to keep on your feet.
The two main problems with ankle strap heels are that the foot tends to slide forward and the heel end becomes wobbly. These issues in turn make the ball of the foot very painful because more weight shifts away from the heel and onto the ball of the foot. Ankle strap heels are difficult to keep on your feet comfortably because they are held on the foot by only a thin toe strap and an even thinner ankle strap attached to a narrow cut away heel. A tightened ankle strap helps to keep the foot in the shoe, but the strap cannot be made so tight it hurts the leg.
In the featured image Mariah Carey wore her ankle strap heels better because she avoided the common problem of toes overhang, wobbliness in heels and an ankle strap that is too tight. Her foot fits well inside the shoe without toes overhanging. When the foot does not slide forward three problems are avoided which are painful ball of foot, heel gaps and wobbliness, plus in the case of ankle strap heels an over tight ankle strap. Unfortunately the singer Normani is not so lucky - her toes overhang the insoles of the shoes and her ankle strap appears to be much too tight due to her foot sliding forward. She demonstrates the problems of toes sliding out of the front of the shoe which shows as toes overhanging the insole on her left foot. The fact that her foot has moved out of the heel of the shoe is indicated by the ankle strap that is so tight it is digging into her leg.
Wobbliness in heels is created by the foot moving towards the front of the shoe and away from the heel end. This throws the shoes off balance and makes them more uncomfortable because high heels are manufactured to have the weight of the wearer distributed as designed to the heel and the ball of the foot. When the foot moves away from the heel end of the shoe more of the wearer's weight is on the ball of the foot. This is not how the shoe was designed to fit on the foot. The high heel then becomes uncomfortably wobbly and the ball of the foot becomes painful. Pinky toe pain is common from pressure of the forefoot strap at the front end of the shoe and blisters on the heel at the heel end of the shoe. The forward shifting of the weight of the wearer is exacerbated by walking. Each step in high heels shifts the foot slightly forward in the shoe creating toes overhang in open toe shoes or painful crushed toes in closed toe shoes. The forward movement of the foot does not occur in well designed and perfectly fitted heels. The forward movement of the foot can be stopped by custom fitted foam shoe inserts in any high heels. Foam inserts work well in shoes that are a proper fit or too loose, they should never be put into shoes that are too tight. (Get rid of any shoes that are too tight, they will damage your feet. Also don't damage your feet by following ill advised "high heel shoe hacks" such as tape toes together, wear wet athletic socks to stretch out high heels, or 'break in' any shoes)
In well designed closed shoes such as pumps that fit perfectly the foot is held in place at the sides by the lining of the shoe. The foot is also held in place by the shoe's heel that fits snugly around the heel of the foot and by a cushioning in the arch area of the shoe that keeps the heel in place and stops the foot from sliding forward. These features can be found in well designed and properly fitting pumps which can be found if you search long and hard and try on many brands and sizes of shoes. Many women never find the right combination of brand and size that fits their unique foot well. This is because while there are thousands of shoe design and size combinations there are billions of foot design and size combinations. Some shoe brands fit better than others for a particular foot. Some brands, such as Aquazurra are made with good fit and comfort designed into them while other brands, such as Louboutin's are famous or infamous for their bad fit and discomfort.
It is difficult to find comfortable well fitting pumps but it even more difficult to find ankle strap heels that fit well, stay in place and are comfortable to wear. Even a pair such as that worn by Mariah Carey that fits perfectly when a person stands still can become wobbly, ill fitting and begin to hurt when a person walks vigorously in them. The best way to wear ankle strap heels comfortably is to first buy shoes that fit as perfectly as possible especially for the length of the foot and then outfit them with high heel shoe inserts that will completely stop the foot from sliding forward and also cushion the ball of the foot. When buying any shoes, especially strappy high heel sandals such as ankle strap heels walk in the shoes at the store, or walk in them as soon as you receive them, and don't buy the shoes at the store, or return them immediately if they are difficult to walk in. Shoes should be easy to walk in with no pain - even if they have high heels - for at least 10 minutes. If you can walk in them in comfort for a short period of time, you will be able to walk in them in comfort for a longer period of time with extra cushioning to make them stay on your feet and also cushion the ball of the foot. Your feet should never burn when you wear heels. Pain in the ball of the foot in heels is usually made worse by the extra pressure caused by the weight of the wearer shifting forward off the heel of the foot and onto the ball of the foot.
Both the cushioning of the ball of the foot and stopping the foot from sliding forward are important in ankle strap heels. As a type of high heel shoe ankle strap heels put a lot of pressure on the ball of the foot, therefore the ball of foot cushioning should be of the type that springs back after each step and does not flatten. In ankle strap heels the foot has to be stopped from sliding forward and this is best done by high heel shoe inserts inserts that physically stop the foot from moving in the shoe. Stopping the foot from moving forward prevents toes overhang, and has the added benefit of preventing wobbliness of the shoe. High heeled footwear of all kinds are designed to have the foot in a specific place inside the shoe. When the foot moves out of that place the shoe becomes unbalanced and you as the wearer feels it as wobbliness and difficulty in walking or keeping your shoes on your feet. If you want to learn how to wear heels all night take tips from a high heel shoe designer Stuart Weitzman.
Stuart Weitzman's advice on buying high heels is that the shoe should fit perfectly right at the store, and if it doesn't don't buy it. He recommended that the only thing that should be done to high heels after they are bought is to add foam inserts to make them fit better. He recommended that high heels should never be bought too small with the idea that they could be stretched to fit or 'broken in'. As a researcher and designer of shoe inserts I agree fully with Mr. Weitzman. I hope you will too and if you do you will have enjoyable experiences wearing high heels. The Weitzman quote is found in another blog on this website: How to make your high heels comfortable- advice for high heel shoe buyers from Stuart Weitzman
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Even the most experienced high heel wearers - women who wear the most stylish coveted brands of heels fitted exclusively for them - can have problems with their shoes. Superstar Mariah Carey on an evening outing in Los Angeles can be seen with her feet slipping out of her high heel sandals. High heel wearers' everywhere can empathize with her. Problems with walking naturally in heels, feet slipping forwards and pain in various parts of the feet are common issues with high heel shoes. If you have these problems they will spoil the way you and your outfits look - nobody looks good hobbling in heels or grimacing in pain or with their toes hanging out - but worse is that improperly fitted high heels can cause injuries from falls or lead to chronic foot pain. There are rational steps you can take, and precautions you should follow, to make your high heel heels comfortable to walk in and your feet pain free and protected from injury.
Five tips for perfect fitting, no pain, high heels:
1. Buy shoes that fit. Buy high heels by matching the LENGTH of your foot in inches with a size chart, and then try on only those shoes and larger ones.
2. Outfit your high heels with contoured foam high heel inserts.
3. Try out your high heels for at least ten minutes of walking about in the shoe store to make sure you can walk easily in them.
4. If you are buying spike heeled shoes make sure the heel end of the shoe does not wobble about when you walk and the shoes feel balanced.
5. Avoid buying high heel shoes with heels over 3.5” unless you intend to mostly sit while wearing them, and you will not be walking or standing for longer than 20 minutes without a rest period.
The 'secret' to making sure you have the best chance of getting high heel shoe inserts that will work for you and give your foot maximum comfort is put them in heels that fit - never too tight - and choose inserts by the criteria of what is the softest and what you can customize as much as possible to fit according to your unique foot to cushion and stop forward slide. Bonus if the inserts stabilize your high heels to stop wobbles.
Review the ranking of the Best and the Worst in high heel shoe cushioning. See if you can find the one you wear most often, and compare it to the other six.
Four high heel footwear styles from the “12 of the Craziest Shoes at Paris Fashion Week Spring ’19 ”, demonstrate common problems in high heels in these ‘uncommon’ new styles from Vivienne Westwood and Balmain. Also read the “The Real Reasons Women Wear Heels!”
Issues: How to stop foot from sliding forward in open toe stiletto sandals with ankle ties; How to stabilize feet in rocker-sole high heel platform boots with chunky heels; How to keep straps comfortable & stabilize sandals with thigh high straps; and How to stop ball of foot pain /toes crush in pointy-toe clear plastic high heeled boots with triangle plastic heels.